Two lawsuits were mentioned on today's news on WBUR. Both are sacred cows -- causes about which no one wants to appear critical. But some might argue that neither of these cases belong in our courts. It is one thing to want to initiate change or honor our loved ones, but another thing to ask for monetary compensation and to tie up the courts and related taxpayer money in litigation.
1. Ond of the families of a 9/11 victim is refusing to settle, asking more damages from United Airlines (above and beyond the million plus dollars offered to all victims of the hijacked plane crashes), also citing Massport and the TSA. Interviewer Evann Gastaldo writes about the family that It's not about the money, "it’s about holding United and other defendants accountable in a public courtroom."
I believe there is a good story that should be told. The family wants to further expose something we should already know -- that a lot of individual human beings didn't act aggressively enough to stop the bad men with box cutters who unprecedentedly used our own commercial airplanes as weapons of mass destruction. Prior to 9/11, the resulting infrastructure was not in place, and racial profiling was grounds for a lawsuit (is it still?). Should the airlines really liable for issues involving citizen surveillance and law enforcement?
Another interesting point the family wants to make: as a responsible, individual citizen, the victim himself acted assertively, attempting to call officials' attention to two of the Al Qaida participants who were trying to board the plane. He thought their behavior was suspicious, and they were "up to no good."
I have since seen TV documentaries demonstrating that three Federal Agencies -- NSA, CIA and FBI -- each had advanced warnings about 9/11 and the participants were under surveillance. But the agencies didn't share information. Are they being sued? As we have seen in Norway -- sometimes bad stuff happens, bad people get away with murder, and hindsight is 20/20. The families of the 9/11 victims have each been offered over a million dollars. All families have accepted the settlement except this one. Meanwhile, US airlines are in a shambles and air travel is increasingly unreliable and expensive. Our economy is in a shambles. We now have to live with the legacy of 9/11 -- Homeland Security, an expensive, unweildy procedure that air travelers would never have tolerated prior to 9/11. And there remains the resulting war in Afghanistan, at mind-boggling expense to taxpayers.
Neither the taxpayers nor air travelers need to foot the bill for an expensive legal showdown intended to tell a story that really should be a book, a movie, or more tributes, such as this one [CLICK HERE].
Kudos to the brave young man for his attempts to stop the Al Qaida bad guys. Sympathies to his family for their loss. He was obviously an exceptional and courageous person, not unlike many of those who have given their lives while serving our country in Afghanistan -- an on-going, very expensive response to the innocent civilians murdered on 9/11.
2. A class action lawsuit claims that MassHealth violated the Massachusetts State Disabilities Act. The story cites complaints by, among others, a blind person who couldn't read the mail notifying of action required for his insurance to be continued. My heart goes out to those who live with any disabilities, especially sightlessness. But how does this person go about reading the rest of his mail?
Another plaintiff contends that "earlier this year, she attempted to contact MassHealth to help understand a certain form. Because the agency failed to provide her with necessary assistance, the suit argues, she missed a deadline to recertify her health insurance. In June, her insurance was suspended."
The suit maintains that Masshealth "...unless enjoined, will continue to inflict injuries for which Plaintiffs have no adequate remedy at law.” I maintain that, if the plaintiffs want to make this public service better, maybe we can initiate some much needed tort reform, and introduce changes in procedural "remedy at law" to avoid this costly use of our courts, not to mention the costs to Massachusetts taxpayers who foot the bill for Masshealth coverage for those who can't afford insurance.
HOWEVER...this class action also seeks “monetary damages to each individual Plaintiff in an amount that will fairly and adequately compensate each Plaintiff for his or her endurance of great mental, psychological, and emotional pain, suffering, and anguish, shame, mortification, indignity, disgrace, embarrassment, humiliation, anger, discomfort, stigma, demoralization, inconvenience, delay, worry, distress, anxiety, nervousness, depression, powerlessness, and other injuries to his or her feelings and sensibilities and continued suffering of all of the foregoing for an indefinite period of time.”
Hmmm...if this is a defining precedent, perhaps many of us deserve some compensation for similar distress resulting from such agencies as the Federal IRS, state tax revenue collection, credit bureaus, banks, traffic police, family courts (for starters) -- not to mention inappropriate litigation by private individuals -- for the same reasons mentioned in this class action suit...great mental, psychological, and emotional pain, suffering, and anguish, shame, mortification, indignity, disgrace, embarrassment, humiliation, anger, discomfort, stigma, demoralization, inconvenience, delay, worry, distress, anxiety, nervousness, depression, powerlessness, and other injuries to his or her feelings and sensibilities and continued suffering of all of the foregoing for an indefinite period of time.”
Inconvenience, delay and worry? Seriously? Anyone been audited lately? Anyone been blind-sided by massive government fines? Or "criminal charges" and mandatory cout time, called for by the new MA law for drivers of low speed scooters?